Jun 08

Matt Harvey No Longer Sure Thing; Timing Suspect For Zack Wheeler

Remember when Matt Harvey was cruising and the talk was how great it would be if he got to start in the All-Star Game at Citi Field?

If it seems like a long time ago, that’s because it is. Harvey is 5-0, but there’s no longer the feeling of invincibility.

WHEELER: Is he ready?

WHEELER: Is he ready?

Harvey is coming off a four-run, 10-hit outing in which he lasted a pedestrian five innings. Outside that performance last week in Miami, Harvey is still giving the Mets innings, but he and the team have little to show for it as he’s had seven no-decisions in his last eight starts, with the Mets losing half those games.

He’s still the best the Mets have to offer, but the sense of the game being over when goes to the mound is gone for a variety of reasons, notably a pathetic offense and leaking bullpen. Simply, Harvey can’t do it by himself.

Of course, that makes me wonder about Zack Wheeler. The conventional thought process on promoting a stud prospect is the time is right when he starts to dominate, but that hasn’t been the case with Wheeler.

In theory, once promoted Wheeler will stay, but last night he didn’t make it through five innings for Triple-A Las Vegas. Wheeler has had flashes of what could be, but also shown us what we saw in Mike Pelfrey.

Reportedly, Wheeler is to start next Friday at Citi Field, but you can’t like the timing. Why give him a week to sit on the start and get tight? Why not spring it on him and let him go on adrenalin?

Either way could be fine or disastrous, but thinking about it for a week doesn’t seem like the best option, especially with how poorly the Mets are playing. As much as Terry Collins warned Wheeler isn’t the “savior,’’ the team is putting extraordinary pressure on him.

You would hope the Mets would put Wheeler in the best position to succeed, but there appears to be a lot of obstacles, beginning with the timing, and including the anticipation and how badly the team is going.

Is there ever a right time to bring up a prospect? Not really with a struggling franchise because of the lofty expectations. Perhaps Wheeler is ready for all this … I don’t know.

However, I wonder about the ramifications if he’s not ready. The Mets rushed prospects before with terrible results – Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia to name a couple – and you’d hate to see it with Wheeler.

Another variable is how well Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee have pitched recently. Both have pitched well enough to stay in the rotation. If Jon Niese is physically ready to go Sunday, there doesn’t appear to be the need for Wheeler.

It looks as if the Mets are forcing this and that can’t be good.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 07

Zack Wheeler Promotion Tentatively Set For Next Friday

Zack Wheeler could make his Mets’ debut next Friday at Citi Field against the Chicago Cubs reports ESPN.

The Mets have delayed Wheeler’s promotion because of his Super Two status as much as anything. By doing this, they will delay his arbitration eligibility by a year until after the 2016 season. He will become free-agent eligible after the 2019 season.

Wheeler is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Las Vegas. He is scheduled to start tonight at Tacoma.

The Mets have not said who will be bounced from the rotation between Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee, both of whom have pitched well recently. Shaun Marcum, who will make $4 million this season, has been the least effective starter.

The Mets have a doubleheader scheduled for June 18 at Atlanta, so the decision could be set back.

Jun 07

Mets Can’t Project Anything From Top Draft Pick Dominic Smith

There are a lot of things you can make of the Mets’ selection of high school first baseman Dominic Smith – all of 17 years old – with the 11th overall pick in the draft.

The first is the obvious, that the Mets are no longer enamored with Ike Davis, but that’s the knee-jerk response. However, remember Smith, at 17, has to be at least three to four years away.

SMITH: Mets' future at first? (MLB)

SMITH: Mets’ future at first? (MLB)

It isn’t as if Smith was the No. 1 overall pick with the can’t-miss status of Bryce Harper.

At least, if you’re using the Mets’ recent drafts of position players as indicators, don’t expect Smith at Citi Field any time soon. By that time, Davis might have figured out his swing.

Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous said Smith’s swing reminds him of Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. Speaking of great swings, I would have thought Tanous might have mentioned Keith Hernandez.

“It’s a traditional swing as far as his hands work very well,’’ Tanous said. “This is as ‘handsy’ a hitter as you’re going to find. He can get his hands to the ball and get inside the ball as well as anybody I’ve seen as an amateur.

“He can actually be caught out front of some balls, be out ahead of the ball, and still barrel the baseball. It’s an extremely smooth swing. His legs stay under him. His head never moves. It’s really, really a flawless bat path once he gets to the ball.’’

If Smith could have remotely the career of Clark, Palmeiro or Hernandez, the Mets would have done very well.

For his part, Smith said all the right things without the braggadocio from the Jets’ pick of quarterback Geno Smith.

“That’s a great compliment,’’ Smith said. “Hopefully I can live up to it, or just live up to the best Dominic Smith I can be. And hopefully I can help the Mets win a World Series.’’

That’s all well and good, but the success rate of baseball draft picks is less projectable than those in the NFL and NBA, and it’s not as if there aren’t a lot of busts in those sports, too.

I’m not saying Smith will be a bust or not, just that the draft is a crapshoot and it is far too soon to predict anything.

METS SHOULD BAG TONIGHT: The forecast tonight isn’t good for tonight’s game against Miami, which is a Matt Harvey start.

They don’t want to waste it by having him begin the game and then potentially sit through a long rain delay.

The side benefit would be not having the fans sit through the lousy weather, unlike those who sat through four hours in a recent Kansas City-St. Louis game.

The Marlins will be in later this year so it would be easy to reschedule.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 05

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee, Marlon Byrd Power Rout Of Nationals

It hasn’t happened often this season, but tonight the Mets received strong pitching from Dillon Gee and top-to-bottom hitting to rout the Washington Nationals, 10-1. It was just the third time this year the Mets scored in double-figures.

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Gee was again superb to beg the question: Why should he be moved from the rotation to make room for Zack Wheeler? Gee have up a run and struck out seven in seven innings. He gave up nine hits and walked a batter, but managed to escape trouble. … Greg Burke and Robert Carson each threw a scoreless inning.

AT THE PLATE: Marlon Byrd hit two homers and David Wright added one. … The Mets had 15 hits to match a season high, including going 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position. … Every starter, including Gee, had at least one hit. … Byrd and Anthony Recker drove in three runs each.

THEY SAID IT: “We needed one bad. Been in our share of close games. To have a game where you can take a breath and relax was important for us.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on getting a blowout victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Combined hits for Recker and Juan Lagares, both of whom entered the game hitting less than .200. … For Lagares, he had a career-high three hits.

METS MATTERS: Jon Niese threw a successful bullpen session and said he’ll be ready to make Saturday’s start against Miami at Citi Field. “How I felt then and today is night and day,’’ Niese said. … Lagares is expected to get another start Thursday.

ON DECK: Shaun Marcum (0-6) goes against Gio Gonzalez.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 05

After Sleeping On It: Mets Should Deal Shaun Marcum

Conventional wisdom has either Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee losing their rotation spot when Zack Wheeler is promoted.

Why just them?

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

After sleeping on it, considering Hefner’s strong start in Washington last night, my choice would be to deal Shaun Marcum.

Marcum has gone six-plus innings in his last four starts to show signs he’s coming around physically. Of the three, Marcum has been the least effective, but his name isn’t mentioned because he’s making $4 million.

Marcum threw a strong six innings against the Marlins until he unraveled in the seventh. But, if you’re a contender trying to fill out the back end of your rotation, you’d be happy with six innings.

Realistically, the Mets might have to delay this decision until they get a read on Jon Niese’s sore shoulder. Niese will throw today, but if he’s not ready he could miss another start or go on the disabled list.

However, should Niese be fine, I’m still for dealing Marcum, and economics are part of the reason as his salary would be palatable to a team looking to add. On a side note, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read where the Mets might be buyers in July. Have they not been watching this team?

Terry Collins said it best when he told reporters in Washington about Wheeler: “He’s not going to be the savior. There are a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around, of course. It takes 25.’’

Yes, it does. We could go on for hours discussing the Mets’ weaknesses and needs, but for the sake of this argument, let’s keep it to the rotation.

Matt Harvey and Niese, assuming the latter is healthy, are safe. The way Hefner and Gee are pitching, they could attract interest, but have manageable salaries, something the Mets covet. If either are dealt, that opens another hole.

Marcum, meanwhile, is gone after this season. If Wheeler proves he’s ready, there would be no reason to entertain bringing Marcum back, so strike when the iron is at least lukewarm to see what they can get.

Hefner and Gee are worth keeping.

Hefner was brilliant Tuesday night in another hard-luck no-decision, one of four he’s had while throwing a quality start. He had another in a loss. Overall, he’s given the Mets at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts.

The Mets would be ecstatic to get that from Wheeler.

Gee hasn’t been as sharp, but is coming off his best start of the season last week against the Yankees when he gave up one run in seven innings. Overall, the Mets have won four of his last six starts, so he must be doing something right. Gee worked six innings or better in 13 of 17 starts last season, so there’s a track record of productivity.

Keep Hefner and Gee, who might be valuable in the future and deal Marcum, who’ll be a one-year Met at best.

ON DECK: Mets Matters notebook.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos